|‘Additional funding is being finalised’|
|Saturday, 16 June 2012 18:56|
However, what we will do, which is a continuous process anyway, is to educate the public about Zinara’s role, revenue streams and how we channel the revenue we collect towards road maintenance through road authorities. We are fund managers and not a road authority.
AM: How has the negative publicity affected your discharge of duties as chief executive officer, and Zinara’s image in general?
If management of organisations was governed by popular opinion, there would be no need to plan. Leadership is about what you believe is right and standing by it. What has to be done has to be done and the right thing obviously is being done.
Here in Zimbabwe, we need to change our culture of being reluctant to pay for services, yet we are quick to complain of poor service delivery. This culture is retrogressive. We cannot develop our road network when we refuse to pay for the very same road we use. Roads are an asset to any economy and come at a cost. Indeed, even Jesus Christ, the son of God, said, “Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar”.
AM: Given the chaos that characterised the changeover to the new licence disc, did you ever think of leaving your job?
The motoring public does not seem to understand that there are benefits in this new system. In fact, there are more benefits — in the best interest of the motoring public — than the chaos that has been hyped by the media. The motoring public was being short-changed by bogus insurance brokers who were selling fake third party insurance in the streets and fake vehicle licence discs. Another important issue to note is that the queues that you saw were as a result of all vehicle licences expiring on May 31 2012. Now that we have computerised, we have provided flexibility to the motoring public.
There are now licence discs ranging from the minimum of a term, which is four months, five months, six months and seven months. We also provide for eight months, which is two terms; nine months, 10 months, 11 months and 12 months, which is one year.
This system was designed to bring convenience to our motoring public. Now that we are capturing data of a particular vehicle in our system, the turnaround time will be reduced during the next licensing period.
We have opened a bulk licensing centre at Zinara head office, which handles those with 10 books and above so that they don’t take up more time licensing.
AM: There were indications from Zinara that the new vehicle licence will not be counterfeited. We understand there are numerous fake licence discs on the market, especially in Harare. What is your comment on this?
We have to move towards being responsible citizens and contribute towards the development of our own country.
AM: What is the current vehicle population and can you also tell us the number you have licensed so far?
Then under that same figure of 800 000 you have heavy vehicles and heavy trailers and small trailers, tractors and motorcycles. However, under our new system, we will be able to have an updated database of Zimbabwe’s vehicle population.
It could be less than 800 000. The motoring public must exempt their vehicles if they are not on the road due to breakdowns.
However, again, if a vehicle is not licensed for two years, the Registrar of the Central Vehicle Registry has the power to deregister that vehicle. At Zinara we exempt vehicles that are not on the road and we maintain a database of such vehicles. Let me say, this system
AM: In your view, are we likely to have all vehicles registered by month-end given that there are no longer long queues of motorists purchasing licence discs?
I am equally optimistic that we will have all vehicles licensed by month-end. The period that we have provided for them to license is adequate to ensure that that they all license.
AM: Any chance that the deadline might be extended if motorists fail to beat the June 30 2012 deadline?
The June 30 2012 deadline was in reference to Section 36 of the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Act, which states explicitly that a motorist will accrue penalties if they fail to license on or before the last day of the month (June 30).
AM: Some motorists say while they are playing their part by licensing their vehicles, road authorities are not playing their part of maintaining roads. Tell us more on this?
Motorists may see as if road authorities are not playing their part, but most of them are doing their best. What is required is periodic maintenance on most of the roads. We cannot currently fund all road authorities at once.
AM: We understand some municipalities and councils are abusing funds you allocate them for road maintenance. What measures are you taking to rein in such unscrupulous municipalities and councils?
FC: Zinara manages public funds and we have a situation where the motoring public, justifiably so, vent out their anger on us. That concerns not only me, but our parent ministry as well, and we are working flat out to bring sanity. You may have noticed that last year we suspended some councils from participating in Zinara programmes for failure to account for funds allocated to them. However, most of them are doing well.
AM: So far how much has Zinara allocated for road maintenance?
However, these amounts are not adequate. $2 billion is required to rehabilitate our total road network which is made up of 88 000 kilometres of surfaced, gravel and earth roads.
May I bring it to the attention of the motoring public that 20 percent of our total road network is surfaced. This includes State roads and roads that fall within the jurisdiction of urban councils.
are doing our best to ensure that every road authority gets a piece of the cake.
Depending on what interventions are being applied on a road, it costs anything between $200 000 to $400 000 to rehabilitate just one kilometre of surfaced road, while construction of a new road costs anything between $700 000 to $1 million a kilometre — of course, depending on the design of that road. Given what our economy went through in the last decade, including sanctions that led to failure to access credit lines, our roads have deteriorated and we are doing our best to source funds elsewhere and through our own revenue streams to rehabilitate our roads.
AM: Critics say you appear to be spending a lot of money on top-of-the-range vehicles instead of road maintenance. How do you react to these allegations?
When purchasing vehicles, we consider the lifespan of the vehicle and whether it can do the work. My understanding of a top-of-the-range vehicle is that it is the uppermost brand and the vehicles that both my management and technical team drive are very basic but with off-road capabilities given the nature of our work as a road administration.
Again, Zinara does not even have a sufficient fleet for the smooth running of its operations. It would be morally bankrupt for me and the Zinara board to spend public funds on top-of-the- range vehicles when we have a maintenance backlog of the road network that requires a minimum of $2 billion.
FC: We will announce the date shortly after all the formalities with our parent ministry and the Ministry of Finance have been finalised. We are still on course.
Hence, our thrust to computerise every revenue collection system, including the tollgates. You have seen how we have put in place a computerised system for vehicle licensing. The same will follow on all tollgates to ensure that we improve on revenue collection for the benefit of the motoring public.
AM: How far have you gone with dualising the Plumtree/Harare/ Mutare highway?
Again, you may have noticed works that are taking place on the Msasa to Goromonzi turn-off. I want to commend the Department of Roads, which is dualising that portion of the Road, for the efficiency and progress they are showing.
I am informed that by this time next year, we may be driving on that road. It would be a relief to motorists who use that road as there is serious traffic congestion during peak hours.
But, overall, the dualisation of the whole route from Plumtree to Mutare is well on course. Additional funding to achieve the dualisation is being finalised with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and very soon you will see more work on the road.
AM: When should the country expect proper tollgate structures on the roads?
These ones will also be computerised and similar to the ones you find on the N1 Highway from Musina to Johannesburg. Other tollgates countrywide will follow the same model but in phases.